Friday, July 31, 2009

DVR-TiVo-Or whatever recording device strikes your fancy-alert!

Before I get on my knees and grovel for forgiveness for having neglected the blog for so long, I thought I’d post this little heads-up concerning some comedy one- and two-reelers which you might want to jot down for viewing and/or taping. (I realize it’s cutting it close, but I didn’t stumble onto this info until early this morning.)

This afternoon, TCM will run the 1948 Joe McDoakes short So You Want to Build a House—scheduled fortuitously before the charming Cary Grant-Myrna Loy farce Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948; no one describes wall colors like Myrna!). A second comedy short treat follows in Neighborhood House (1936), a Charley Chase romp that according to the legend was originally five reels in length but was edited down to two. It has long been accepted as conventional wisdom that House’s re-editing was due to a poor reception from an audience, negating Chase’s foray into features—but Yair Solan, proprietor of The World of Charley Chase, argues that the cutting of the two-reeler was due to a legal battle looming over the horizon over the Roach Studios’ “borrowing” of the “Bank Night” concept in the film. (The original title of the feature was Bank Night, and Mr. R was anxious to avoid a lawsuit, in layman’s terms. The messy fallout of "Chase can't 'carry' a feature" followed.) I’ve not had the pleasure of seeing the short but I’ve heard several of my fellow Chase acolytes offer nothing but praise—including Yair, whom I’d also like to give a hearty handclasp for purchasing some of the items in my recent eBay auction as well.

But I digress. Tomorrow morning (Saturday), it’s Roach’s “female Laurel & Hardy” team’s turn to grab the spotlight at 11:40am EDT (following Barbara Stanwyck and Henry Fonda in You Belong to Me [1941]) as Thelma Todd and Patsy Kelly star in the two-reeler The Misses Stooge (1935). In this one, Thelma & Patsy are canned from their job as dancers and are forced to take up another occupation—Thelma secures work as “stooge” to a magician (Herman Bing) and Patsy becomes Bing’s assistant. I’ve not seen this short either…but if this is the start of a Hal Roach revival trend (TCM ran L&H’s County Hospital Wednesday night before the 1934 Wheeler & Woolsey musical comedy Hips, Hips, Hooray!) I endorse the idea with endless reservoirs of enthusiasm.

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